“The truth is, advertisers and brand marketers are entering a brave new world — one where code is on par with content. The 21st-century ad isn’t something to be looked at, it’s something to be used… …”Consumers” are now “Users.” So are “Marketers” now “Developers”?”
“…having someone who at least can help a creative team understanding how the software should look is very helpful. “I think having somebody like that, even if they are not the ones coding the app, helps bridge the gap between the technical and the creative…”
Business Value = Subscribers * Demographics
Business Value = Eyeballs + relevance * intent
Last week’s talk of the town among media in crowd and digerati was that spending on Online Marketing in the UK finally has taken pole position from Offline Advertising.
Make no mistake: this is significant. (Remember this is BBC territory!)
For years eyeballs, attention and now -as predicted and long overdue- budget weight have shifted from TV, Radio and Print to Interactive Media, culminating in this milestone.
Why this change from spending budget on Offline Advertising to investing in Online Marketing Strategies?
And why this plea to repurpose the inner workings of agencies (and ASAP at that)?
Well, to answer the first question, here’s a list of activities people in general are currently undertaking (online) instead of massively tuning in on prime-time (or, indeed, instead of buying and reading newspapers) like they used to:
- Checking news anytime, online, for free;
- Discovering and consuming online content, via “Social Distribution”, for free;
- Shopping online, any time they like;
- Spending days on end playing videogames;
- Spending evenings (cocooning with friends or family) watching TiVo or DVD’s;
- Leaving comments and reviewing products on that very same e-commerce site;
- Discussing and reviewing artists, movies, products and brands on niche online communities;
- Logging in daily to update their status in social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook (or even several times a day – thanks to mobile flat-rate data plans and apt mobile devices and smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry and the Nokia N series, to name but a few).
Okay, I’m bound to have missed many, many more, yet even the online media consumption / activities I’ve inevitably missed, share core characteristics with the ones mentioned above, which, when indentified and aligned next to each other, should underline my statement that agencies need some unadulterated tech DNA should they hope to help their clients connect online with their audience.
“Creatives need to be specialists in the spaces where consumers live that are defined by new technology.”
“If agencies are to continue to offer the highest value to their clients, and realize the full potential of new media on behalf of their clients, they need to make sure every department is as technology literate as consumers” -Simon Mainwaring
So, why the need for new fresh Silicon Valley Blood for agencies in this post-Madison Avenue MarCom ecosystem? Well, for starters, all the activities mentioned above:
- are On Demand;
- are personalized;
- are ubiquitous;
- are interactive (vs. passive content consumption);
- put the user in control;
-And… they’ve become a habit.
Habits slowly but steadily ingraining themselves in modern culture on a global scale.
All of these activities have replaced, or are in the process of replacing, the habit of, say, going home after school or work, watching the same mass orientated, one-size-fits-all TV shows like the rest of the populous, within timeslots deemed fit by a few network coordinators, all the while zapping away the interruption marketed ads…
(On a side note, what has also been replaced is blindly following the opinion of a select few elitists, or opinion leaders, so you will. You don’t need (trust?) one or more reporters from the New York Times to tell you that The Dark Knight or District 9 are movies worth an evening out to the multiplex, what book is a must-read or which restaurant should be on your shortlist, as even more so than usual, nowadays people are forming their own opinion by reading online peer reviews or discussing their customer care experience online, no holds barred.
Internet killed the middleman.
This continuous two-way online dialogue is another reason why the one-way message sending, branding specialists need to acquire interactive skill- and mindsets…)
It’s The Internet, Stupid
“Why doesn’t the traditional model work online? In short, the web is too fragmented (millions of videos, millions of web sites), too loosely coupled (countless hyperlinks, embed codes, APIs), and too nascent (too few revenue models, too little clarity about the future) to fit comfortably into a media conglomerate as they exist today.”
“The challenge is that the scarce resources are different: while the media business continues to rely on “talent,” today’s talent may be writing code rather than screenplays. Distribution still creates value, but it can mean a quickly passed link on Twitter or Facebook instead of an 8 p.m. slot on a broadcast network”.
But these factors are not the only causes for this disruptive re-allocating of budget.
Sure, everyone agrees that you should “fish where the fish are”, but the main reason that budgets are finally being freed up from political unwillingness or irrational conservatism, is that in these times of crises, true accountability in marketing and advertising has finally become key.
There’s no need for (hiding behind) second guessing or causality in MarCom anymore: Plausible effective advertising maybe was “fine” yesterday, today proven effectiveness by conversion is vast becoming the golden standard.
The current recession has acted as a catalyst for this silk media revolution, merely accelerating the inevitable.
Now the marketer finally knows which half of her marketing euro, dollar, yen or what have you, is wasted on naught and which half is an investment; generating leads or spurring your core hyper targeted audience into action. All in real-time, if necessary, meaning you can act real-time.
“It’s to no fault that many account teams have no concept of what web development entails in terms of budget and time. Too many times there are promises made that cannot be fulfilled. Having a cross functional, technically savvy professional on hand to lay out accurate budget and time frames in real time ensures that the client is not mislead by a traditional account person reliant on third party estimates.”
It’s no longer about the clever award winning Creative Director and his team of witty art-director/copywriter duo’s.
This also means that the sole focus in marketing and advertising isn’t about “sending content” anymore, but it’s about the underlying technologies that facilitate dialogue between brand and stakeholders, and empowers them both.
It’s about, for example, creating branded tools that might prove useful in everyday mundane tasks for the user: Apps-as-a-Brand-Utility. Eyeballs. Attention.
“Code” and “(meta)data” have earned their rightful place next to “design” and “gut-feeling”, thus switching the demand from pure creative output to actionable insights based on real-time data; apps and open platforms for effective communication, feedback and co-creation. All of this fundamentally challenging the very raison d’être and modus operandi of traditional agencies.
“Various models have evolved over the years but the successful ones have at their core a few talented individuals who “get it” when it comes to the nuts and bolts of technology, the subtleties of strategic brand building and the figures that justify an ROI…
…the more multidisciplinary people an agency can employ without forcing generalists into specialized silos, the better equipped they’ll be to provide true integration.”
As it is becoming increasingly clear that consumers are changing their daily work-, leisure- and decision-making(!) systematic from Analogue- to Digital based; brands/advertisers and traditional MarCom specialists will have to adapt & change their Tech know-how (what vs. why), their thought patterns (creative top-down factories vs. embracing digital natives and co-creating), and their priorities (branding vs. true empirical accountability) to match this new reality or ultimately end up like that frog in the slow-boiling pan.
The long-term solution however, is not going to be purely a technological one, but rather an anthropological and sociological one; the real challenge lies in the cultural change and organizational restructuring needed to save traditional agencies from the same dark fate (or worse) as the music industry and newspaper & magazine publishers. Out with the old…
[Yes, the very fact that it’s 2009 and I’m posting this rant as being new(s), means that somehow there’s still a need for summaries and musings like this, however obvious and stale it might seem to fellow digital natives and digerati in-crowd alike. Yet, I believe that this needs to be heard and echoed. I’m merely trying to add a drip in the quite -possible very pretentious- hope all the accumulated drips will eventually flood the ivory tower of cognitive dissonance that some board rooms and CEO’s (across all traditional agencies and entertainment outlets) dwell in.]
Read more thoughts about Apps-as-a-Brand-Utility, the future of advertising, “Creative Technologists” and the ideal DNA composition for successful marketers and agencies in the 21st Century in this excellent article by Allison Mooney on Advertising Age.
Tags: copywriter, code, feedback, API, reviewing products, music industry, Madison Avenue
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